A Government Minister is less than pleased with the draconian measures imposed on consumers by some financial institutions and is calling for the implementation of innovative strategies to stamp out this practice.

Minister of Economic Affairs, Dr. David Estwick, made this observation today, while addressing Consumers International’s two-day regional seminar entitled: Banking Credit, Financial Services and Consumer Protection in the Caribbean: Towards a Regulatory Policy Framework. It was held at the Amaryllis Beach Resort, Hastings, Christ Church.

Emphasising that government would continue to protect consumers through its fiscal and monetary regimes, the Minister noted that a policy strategy was needed to "allow for credit ease that will empower consumers and end unfriendly practices by financial service providers".

??Dr. Estwick further stated: "Innovative and imaginative strategies need to be put in place to mitigate against the sometimes draconian measures that are visited on consumers, who access financial goods and services especially in times of recession.

He also suggested that financial institutions exercise prudence in their lending policies, to promote consumer protection, and to prevent financial stress in the long run.

In light of this, Dr. Estwick challenged the financial sector to supplant the existing culture with a more equitable one. "Consumers need not only to be empowered, but also protected, through the equitable behaviour by banks and credit companies.?? By confronting how your repayments are apportioned to your credit card debt, you can ensure that benefits accrue through the retention of earnings," the Minister added.

He also urged officials from Consumers International and other agencies, to explore the feasibility of implementing a mechanism, that permitted the consumer to reject an indiscriminate interest rate and allow them to settle their debts at the existing rates.

The event, which drew representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, the Consumer Affairs Department in Trinidad and Tobago, the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce in Jamaica and the Barbados Consumer Research Organisation, continues tomorrow, Tuesday, September 21, at the Amaryllis Beach Resort starting at 9:00 a.m. jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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